Air Travel for your pet
By Dr. Chante Wildgoose
It is summertime and lots of pets' owners opt to take their furry friends with them on a fun filled vacation. Pets can travel with us, be it by plane or by boat. There are certain steps however that you the pet owner need to take before getting Fido on-board an airplane. While no one can guarantee a trouble-free trip, the vast majority of pets get where they're going in fine shape. So, here are some guidelines and tips to make travelling for you and your pet safe and comfortable.
Animals move through the airline system as unaccompanied cargo or as travelers' baggage. Unaccompanied pets and most animals traveling as baggage travel in pressurized cargo holds, while some small pets are allowed into the cabin as a carry-on.
Before your pet flies Talk to the airline.
1. Some airlines that take pets not all do have limits on the number of animals on a flight, in the cargo hold and (for small pets) in the passenger compartment.
2. You also need to know where and when your pet has to be presented, which documents health certificate and so on you'll need to bring.
3. Also be aware that some airlines won't ship pets in the warmer months at all (except as carry-on). Other weather-related restrictions apply as well.
4. Ask about the required pet carrier that the airline requires for animal travel. Material and dimensions need to be considered both for the airline's requirements and your pet's comfort. The crate should be just big enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in. Check and double-check that all the bolts securing the halves of the carrier are in place and tightened. Pets that are small enough to ride in the passenger cabin will be more comfortable in a soft-sided carrier.
Carry-on pets should have a collar and ID tag, but that's not safe for pets traveling below. Instead, put an ID tag on a piece of elastic around the pet's neck, and make sure contact information is written large and indelibly on the outside of the crate. Food and water dishes should be attached to the inside of the door grate and a supply of kibble duct-taped to the top of the carrier so airline personnel can offer it without opening the door.
5. Don't forget to ask about costs, so you won't be surprised. Struggling airlines have dramatically raised fees on many services, including shipping animals. Even pets who travel as carry-ons are subject to fees.
Talk to your veterinarian
1. Be sure your pet is in good health. Air travel isn't recommended for elderly or sick animals, and is likewise ill-advised for the short-nosed breeds of dogs and cats (like british bull dogs, pekingnese, Persian cats etc.). These animals find breathing a little difficult under the best of circumstances, and the stress of airline travel may be more than they can handle.
2. Be sure your pet has current vaccinations. Depending on the country where you are destined to arrive it is required that your cat or dog needs to have, in particular, a current rabies vaccine. Some countries require more than just a vaccine. The UK and many European countries require that your pet has the rabies vaccine and a Rabies Titre test done at least three months before arriving to their country!
3. Get your pet Microchipped. Some countries require that a pet has a microchip placed at a particular site on its body for identification purposes. Your veterinarian can perform this procedure and provide a certificate of proof of microchipping.
4. If your pet suffers from severe anxiety talk to your vet and if needed take oral sedatives for your pet so that she can be as comfortable as possible on her journey
Do your research
1. Go online and search your destination country's requirements for pet travel and entry. Note that some countries will not allow certain breeds of dogs and even some exotic animals to enter their borders!
2. If returning to the Bahamas with your pet you must get return documentation from the Ministry of Agriculture BEFORE leaving for vacation
3. Keep an eye on the weather and consider travel conditions. Don't ship your pet when the air traffic is heaviest. Avoid peak travel days and times. Red-eye flights are often a good choice.
One more tip; Choose a direct flight. If that's not possible, choose a route with a single connection and a short layover. Unfortunately, most travelling animal fatalities occur on the ground, when pets are left in their crates on the hot tarmac or in stifling cargo holds.
Following these tips can make pet travel a breeze. Talk to the airline, your vet and do your research and never wait until the last minute to make your pet's travel arrangements.
© 2012 The Freeport News